While Hurricane Sandy largely spared Bowdoin, the storm left thousands of Maine residents without power and devastated much of the eastern seaboard. The death toll currently stands at 88, and the situation may get worse before it gets better. Still, life at Bowdoin goes on more or less as usual, even as the families of many students continue to cope with the storm’s damage.
Since Sandy hit, much has been written about how the storm will impact the election on November 6. Pundits and public officials across the nation have called for both presidential candidates to seriously address global warming after avoiding the issue for months, an imperative Walter Wuthmann elaborates on in this week’s Talk of the Quad. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have both linked the severity of the storm to climate change. In an op-ed in Bloomberg View yesterday, the mayor endorsed President Obama in part because he feels the president will “place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.” We agree.
Only nine percent of respondents to the Orient’s election survey reported that the environment was the most important issue in the presidential race. Forty two percent said that they care most about the economy. With our country facing billions of dollars in post-hurricane damage, the relationship between climate change and the state of our economy has never been more clear.
In this week’s paper, the Orient reports on students speaking out on the need to expand renewable energy and cultivate sustainable habits. With his dorm room sustainability audit and certification pledges, Eric Chien is setting new standards for environmental efficiency that we hope will become the status quo. Yesterday, Sustainable Bowdoin installed a compost system for Ladd and Baxter to share as part of the effort to provide composting facilities for every College House. Last night, students went door-to-door in Brunswick Apartments to explain the changes in the ZeroSort recycling program. In the next few months, occupancy sensors will be installed on hallway lights in first year bricks to conserve energy.
Matthew Goodrich’s petition for the College to be carbon-free by 2020 is an example of visible grassroots activism, and we endorse his energy and idealism. While it may not be possible to free the campus of its dependency on fossil fuels in just eight years, he—along with the 200 students who have signed on to his petition—is sending a strong message to the administration that students prioritize tackling climate change, and expect Bowdoin to do more than simply encourage turning off the lights and recycling bag lunches.
One of Goodrich’s goals is for the College to divest its endowment from fossil fuel industries. We acknowledge the complexity of the College’s finances, but individual action can only do so much to combat climate change. The hurricane has prompted national leaders to talk about real systemic change, and we hope Bowdoin’s leaders will do the same.
We still don’t know the full toll of Hurricane Sandy, but the reality is that storms of its magnitude have become increasingly frequent over the last ten years.With coastal communities increasingly threatened by rising sea levels, the issue is not whether we will have to change the way our institutions work—it’s when.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Claire Aasen, Erica Berry, Linda Kinstler, and Eliza Novick-Smith.